West Charlotte church chooses to make services virtual, offers COVID-19 testing to community
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Shon Hagwood, senior pastor at First Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, announced Thursday that his congregation would no longer be gathering in-person for worship services during the month of January. Instead, services will be held virtually.
The pastor said that the change would be happening because of the continued spread of COVID-19. The percentage of people testing positive for the virus in Mecklenburg County has been on the rise over the last several days.
Hagwood spoke to WBTV in an interview Thursday night, explaining that his congregation takes the virus very seriously.
“We have a large senior membership in this church so I’m very, very concerned about their well-being,” said the senior pastor.
Hagwood said his church has had a few members die after contracting COVID-19. He explained that one of the church’s deacons died after contracting the virus at the onset of the pandemic.
“It really hit us very hard and I think it was very eye-opening as well. Preaching his eulogy, it couldn’t be done here,” said the senior pastor. “You’re talking about a man who had 20 years of service to the United States Navy - full benefits, he should have gotten full rights, full military rights. Literally at his funeral were literally 10 people and that’s including the two funeral directors and myself.”
Hagwood said his congregation has tried to hold in-person services at points during the pandemic. They still have some church pews taped off for social distancing purposes. The pastor said the sanctuary will remain closed for in-person worship for at least the month of January.
“We don’t know where this omicron variant is gonna go, but it doesn’t mean that ministry stops so we figure out whatever pivot we have to make, we make that pivot,” explained the pastor.
While in-person worship is on hold at the church, COVID-19 testing is ramping up. Hagwood said First Mount Zion is proud to be partnered with Andor Labs to offer COVID-19 testing in the church’s parking lot.
“We’ve seen enough death already. How can we minimize that? Get tested,” said Hagwood.
The testing is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. First Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church is located at 1515 Remount Road in Charlotte.
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